This past December, we had an amazing opportunity to be a part of the popular TV Show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”.
It all started when Ty Pennington, star of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, was surfing the web one day and stumbled across our fabulous fence. He declared that he just had to have a WamBam Fence for an upcoming episode…
That’s how I wish I could start the story of how WamBam Fence got to be involved with this high profile TV show, but alas, the truth is not quite so glamorous. Still, like most opportunities, it was the collision of events that were meant to be.
My name is Denise, and I’m one of the founders and owners of WamBam Fence. If that sounds cool, the next sentence is not: I’m also member of Toastmasters International. If you’re not sure what that is, just Google it, and you’ll realize that it’s kind of geeky.
At a recent Toastmasters meeting, I had only just met Wade Miller, co-owner of Bellamy Homes, the company chosen for the EMHE build. Less than a week before the build, a few of us met up for a drink after a meeting, and someone piped up, “Well, Wade, you know if you need a fence that you can just ask Denise.”
“Really?” He replied, “Because I think we do need a fence. It wasn’t originally a requirement, but now it is.”
Knowing that there were many ears tuned in, I gave the right answer: “Sure, I can get you a fence.” I was thinking they needed maybe 10, 20 panels tops, and that it would be pretty cool to be a part of the project.
“How many feet?” I asked.
“Close to 400,” He replied.
I almost spewed my drink all over the place. “Um, wow. That’s a lot. Ok, well, I’ll have to check inventory.” It was a weak back paddle; I knew we had the inventory. It’s just that that was a lot of fence! I wanted to be a part of this project, but it was no small commitment for a relatively newer start-up like us. People assume that with a show like this, your logo and company name get splashed all over the place, bringing in major revenue. That’s not the case at all. Unless you’re willing to pay the big bucks—and I mean BIG BUCKS that would blow our marketing budget for years to come—the show will never display a logo or mention your company name. There is absolutely no coverage of your company, brand, or product.
Those petty doubts quickly went away. It was a great opportunity to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and even though it was a heck of a lot of product, it was really cool to be able to give back to the community and be involved with this. It’s funny how things work out, too- because although we were all in to donate 100% of the product, when our manufacturing partner found out about the opportunity, they immediately offered to give us half the product for free in exchange for a press release.
We were a bit nervous about the install. Since we are manufacturers, we don’t offer installation services. I need a few more years at the gym pumping iron before I can wam bam pipe into the ground like nobody’s business. Wade found a crew of 15 or so volunteers to install the fence, which had to be completed in 15 hours. While we were sure that they would be competent—after all, our product is designed to be easy to install– having a crew of people unfamiliar with the product on such a tight timeline caused us a bit of anxiety. We really wanted it to go smoothly, quickly, and yet look good. A good install is critical to the final fence looking good.
On the day designated for the fence install, Stephen, Linda, and I went on site to pitch in. There was security and check in areas where we received our mandatory hard hats and t-shirts. Once we got to the site, it was really cool. The energy at the build was amazing. It was shocking to see a half-built home that was supposed to be completed in only 2 more days. The amount of people and organized chaos on site was invigorating. Stephen, Linda and I pitched in a little, but the real heroes were the volunteers from Archer Western Contractors, particularly John Stull who lead the team. They worked tirelessly for hours to get the fence installed. Of course our anxiety was completely unnecessary- they did a great job and the fence looked fabulous.
As if the opportunity wasn’t cool enough, when I learned a bit about the family receiving the home, it struck a chord within. The Fridays have fostered more than 30 children, and last spring they fostered a boy who showed them a video of his 4 siblings, all split up by the system. Declaring that a family should never be split up, the Fridays adopted all 5 children. Because their home was too small, the Fridays were forced to convert their carport into bedrooms to make space for the children. Ironically enough, this story hit kind of close to home for me, because many years ago, my grandparents did a similar thing: despite having 7 kids of their own, they took 3 orphaned children into their home so the siblings wouldn’t have to split up, and raised them as their own. Knowing that my father grew up in a home with a similar situation– and seeing how much difference my grandparent’s act of kindness made in the lives of my adopted Uncles and Aunts– I was able to appreciate the Friday’s sacrifice that much more.
Once the dust settled, Wade met with the family to go over how to operate their new home. He buzzed me an email: “I have to admit that what they raved most about was their fence. They were so happy to have a fence it was crazy. I think it’s because there are so many new children coming through their home that they want to keep them off the neighbor’s property.” This email made my day.
The show isn’t scheduled to air until 2012 for a Christmas special, and we’re excited to see the finished episode. We don’t expect to see much fence on the show, because the home’s fence is just a subtle backdrop to define the borders of their property, as any good fence should be. What really matters is being a part of something bigger than ourselves and being able to give back just a little morsel to the community.
Normally we like to hire professionals to do our videos and photography, but since the Extreme Makeover project was last minute, our go-to guys weren’t available. What you see is my ad hoc photography, videoing and attempt to slap it all together. It’s pretty grass roots, but I hope it can at least capture the essence of the experience.
All the pictures are on the WamBam Facebook page. Click here to see the whole album.